Easy to make and a joy to share, these Christmas Cake Bars have all the flavours of a festive fruit cake, with a marzipan topping and drizzle icing decoration. Make them at any time of the year.If Marzipan is not to your liking omit the decoration and enjoy them plain or brushed with a simple Apricot Glaze.
500gdried fruits such as raisins, currants and sultanas
200gglace cherrieswashed, dried, and cut into quarters.
To finish and decorate
3TablespoonsBrandywhisky or rum
2tablespoonsapricot jamor marmalade
454gpacket Ready to Roll Golden Marzipan
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Measure all the dried fruits and candied peel into a bowl, pour over the brandy and leave to soak for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, to allow all the fruits to soak up the brandy and plump up a little.
The following day
Preheat the oven to 160ºC (Fan assisted). Grease and line a 30 × 20cm (12 × 8 in) traybake tin with baking parchment or non stick paper.
Using an electric hand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, adding a little flour in between each one to help prevent curdling.
Add the remaining flour, ground almonds, mixed spice, ready soaked dried fruits, washed and chopped cherries and mix well. Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared tin levelling the top.
Bake for 35 – 40 mins or until baked with a golden brown colour. Always test the centre of the cake with a skewer until it comes out clean. Leave to one side to cool a little.
While the cake is still warm, pour the 3 spoonfuls of brandy over the top of the cake allowing it to soak through. Leave the cake to cool completely before covering with Marzipan, or it will melt.
Brush the top of the cake with the warm sieved apricot jam.
Roll out the marzipan to a rectangle shape the same size as the top of the traybake. You can use the base of your cake tin as a guide. Rolling out the marzipan between two sheets of baking parchment will make the task a lot easier.
Lay the marzipan on top of the cake, taking care as you do this as the Jam will be sticky. Patch up and smooth over any uncoved areas with pieces of Marzipan if needed. Press down gently. Neaten the edges with a serrated knife.
Sieve the icing sugar then start to mix to a paste by adding 1 tablespoon of preboiled water. Keep adding the water a little at a time until you have a very thick pipeable mixture. If it is too thin and runny it will flood the cake.
Add your icing mix to a piping bag with a not too thin nozzle and decorate across the top of the Marzipan in a zig zag pattern or how ever you wish. Leave to set before slicing into squares/bars.
Notes and Q&A
If using bags of ready-mixed dried fruit, which often contains Candied Peel, the total fruit should be 625g
Sieving the icing sugar will remove any lumps and help create a nice smooth lump free mixture.
Feeding your baked cake with brandy, whisky or rum will not only add more flavour, but it will help keep it nice and moist, especially if you are baking this in the weeks leading up to Christmas and the Festive period or a special occasion.
You can make these cake bars ahead of time. Keep it well wrapped, unsliced after adding the brandy. When ready to serve, brush the top with the sieved apricot jam and follow the rest of the recipe to decorate the top.
If Marzipan is not to your liking omit the decoration and enjoy them plain or with a simple Apricot Glaze.
How Long Will Christmas Cake Bars Keep?
Without the marzipan topping, the cake will keep for several weeks if wrapped correctly using baking parchment and kept in an airtight container. Don't forget to feed regularly with brandy.
With the Marzipan Topping, it will keep for up to 7 days if wrapped in baking parchment and kept in an airtight container.
Can I freeze Christmas Cake Bars?
The cake will freeze well without the marzipan and icing topping. Wrap well to avoid freezer burn.